The Art of Regifting or the Post Where I Make Fun of My Mom a Little and Secretly Hope the Apple Falls Very Far From the Proverbial Tree


Several years ago, I bought my mom a scarf for Christmas. I picked it out specifically with her in mind. She's a brunette with olive skin and she looks beautiful in the scarf's browns and golds. I sent it carefully wrapped in tissue in a distinctive box. So I was fit to be tied the next Christmas when I got my scarf back as a gift. To be fair, she sent me a whole giant box of Christmas presents, most of them picked out just for me but she no doubt grabbed a few more things to fill the box and assuage my first Christmas alone and my scarf was one of them. She's my mom so of course I totally called her out on it.

"Uh, nice mom, you sent me the scarf I gave you last year. You are such a dork."

"Did no such thing, that was not the scarf you sent me, that was a different scarf."

"No, it was the exact same Jones New York, shades of autumn silk scarf, I remember because picking it out I thought about how nice it would look with your mink.”

“Uh, how'd you like the black skirt I sent you?", she said hastily changing the subject.
My mom is a terrible regifter and has given me my own presents back more than once. She has also mistakenly regifted a book that was inscribed to her and wormy chocolates, though in her defense she was in a five minute mad dash to find a Christmas gift for a unexpected guest.
My grandmother, on my mother's side, also has slightly odd habits when it comes to gift-giving. She has what we call the 'prize closet' where throughout the year, well okay, throughout the last thirty years, she has stocked with all manner of good deals. Big Lots, the Dollar Stores, Tuesday Morning, you name it, she hunts of the best bargains.

Come Christmas or birthday time, Grandma takes a trip to the closet and picks out your gift. It always warms my heart when I get two pairs of pinstriped trouser socks, utility shears and a cut glass mobile. It warms my heart because I've received this wonderful trio several years in a row. I can't tell you how valuable multiple pairs of scissors are when you live with an eight-year old and husband constantly abdicating your implements for weird eight-year old boy experiments and MacGuyveresque tool usage by the hubs.

So does the apple fall far from the tree you ask, am I also a dirty little regifter? Admittedly, I am. I am very particular and also a minimalist so if something isn't my style or in my opinion superfluous, it goes straight into the gift bin, yes I have a dedicated bin. Olive oil dipping bowls from the mother-in-law? Gift bin. The vaguely Christian trivets that implore me to 'believe', and have 'faith' yep, the gift bin. The kiwi/wild cherry body wash? Well, actually that went to the goodwill because I got a whiff of it and I wouldn't pawn that liquid evil off on anyone.

The bin is also filled with our Christmas overflow of kids presents. With multiple grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles, our kids get so many gifts it's embarrassing. If we let them at it all, we'd no doubt end up with a bunch of Veruca Salts, Daddy I want a golden egg!” So instead we shelve a chunk of them. We use them later for friends birthday presents and good report card ataboys.

So yes, I am an unapologetic regifter, but I have a system. Before they go in the bin, gifts are marked with the year received and the gifter, thus avoiding embarrassing regifts to the original giftee. Gifts are only regifted when the fit is good. The vaguely Christian trivets? Our bible thumping nanny thanked me for completing her set. The sugar cookie scented bath set, perfect fit for my young assistant. I regift out of a sense of thrift and repurposing.

This will be a difficult Christmas for far too many people. Money is tight, people are worried about their jobs, homes, and more. So eschew consumerism, that's not what Christmas was about anyway. Go out and be merry and regift with fervor. Not only is it thrifty, it's green and will surely stem the shopocalypse just a little longer. Just don't send any kiwi/wild cherry body wash my way or I'll cut you.

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12 comments:

Rassles said... November 20, 2008 at 12:04 PM  

Now, if something's not my style? I make it my style. So when I a framed copy of that "footsteps" poem? I hang it in the kitchen. Right next to an oil painting of a high-heeled tranny leg and an autographed photo of Spencer Tracy.

I have no idea where I got any of these things.

Rassles said... November 20, 2008 at 12:05 PM  

"so when I a framed"

I suck

A Free Man said... November 20, 2008 at 2:22 PM  

I don't have the memory for regifting. We have this frame that someone gave us with a little oval for a photo of your wee'un for every month of his/her first year. We got, like three of them last year. I was going to fill it up and give it to my Mom. Problem is that she gave us one of them and I don't remember which. But she would.

Your post is up. Thanks again for doing it!

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12ontheinside said... November 20, 2008 at 4:44 PM  

Oooh, regifting. I especially like doing it for someone I really am only giving to out of duty or guilt or because I know they will give me a crap gift. My mum once regifted and accidentally gave a gift from the year before back to the same person. She was lucky - the recipient squealed and said "I LOVE THIS! I gave something very similar to this to someone last year and I always wished I'd got myself one too!"

Not Afraid to Use It said... November 20, 2008 at 8:09 PM  

I laughed and laughed through this post. I love it! I love that you called your mom out on it, and I love your sense of organization. My favorite thing to do has always been to give the same gift over and over. As in go back into my sister's room some time during the year, take what I had given her and wrap it up again. It was hilarious. I think I may have to do something similar this year. Thanks for the inspiration!

SSG said... November 21, 2008 at 3:09 AM  

I think your gift bin is a good idea. Not everyone wants what they are given and sometimes it would be better for someone else.
Some of my friends and I after Christmas this year are having a "swap shop" and anything left over goes to ebay or charity shop... I dont like waste and I dont like not knowing the value of things... or having too much stuff.

Sandi said... November 21, 2008 at 7:51 AM  

My kids get so many gifts for b-days and x-mas (despite the fact that I specifically ask for no gifts for their birthdays),that I do the same thing. It then save me the trouble of running to the store everytime they are invited to a b-day party.

I believe in re-gifting.

Dirty Pirate Hooker said... November 21, 2008 at 11:05 AM  

LOL, I have the re-gift drawer too!!!

A lot of times I'll bring a few extra gifts from that drawer wrapped up to wherever I'm going and then if someone I wasn't expecting shows up with a gift for me or my punk, I have a stupid gift for them too.

It's genius really.

Heather said... November 21, 2008 at 8:11 PM  

Ha ha ha.....I was there for the wormy chocolates!!!!!!! I am proud to be a regifter....has saved my butt in last minute situations many o times!

ddputz said... November 22, 2008 at 7:15 AM  

Loved your regifting blog Christine. I have an Aunt who has a "bargain basement" rather than a prize closet. For a while, visitors were invited to the basement to pick out new athletic shoes that had been tossed into the dumspter behind the shoe factory next to my uncle's work. Denise

Gypsy said... November 24, 2008 at 8:14 AM  

My mom has the same closet as your grandmother, although stocked with perhaps slightly more, uh, desirable gifts.

But regifting is an art, for sure. One I don't think I've perfected yet.

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